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What To Do During A Hurricane: A Complete Guide

What To Do During A Hurricane: A Complete Guide

Do you live in a region of the United States that’s especially prone to hurricanes?

If so, you know that knowledge is power. It’s important to know not only what to do during a hurricane, but also how to prepare beforehand and handle the aftermath once it’s over. 

Don’t be caught off-guard without ways to protect yourself. Today, we’re sharing a complete guide that covers the steps to take before, during and after a hurricane.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

 

What to Do Before a Hurricane

You’ve watched the weather forecast and you know that a hurricane could be approaching. There is one major decision to make at this point: Will you stay put or evacuate?

 

If You Evacuate

You might decide to evacuate on your own will. Or, local authorities might order you to do so. Either way, there are several stepsto take to make sure you leave your home as protected as possible.

Begin by unplugging all of your appliances and connected devices, including your televisions. If you’re currently storing valuables or other important items at or below ground level (as in a basement), try to move them to a higher position, such as on a table or kitchen counter.

Then, you’ll need to disconnect certain connections. Turn off your water and gas to prevent flooding and dangerous leaks, and take the fuses out of your air conditioning system. These could surge when the power comes back on, causing serious damage.

If you have time to plan before you evacuate, make sure your car has a full tank of gas and make any necessary repairs to ensure it’s in good running condition. Stash emergency supplies in the trunk, along with a change of clothes. 

 

If You Stay Home

Before the hurricane makes landfall, there are certain steps you can take to safeguard your home. If you plan to stay put, bring in all lawn equipment and ornaments to prevent them from becoming airborne during the storm. 

This can range from decorative flags and planters to sculptures, portable fountains and more. Also, remember to check your pool covers and shed doors. Both should be tightly secured.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and put all of your important documents in a weather-proof container that will protect them from water damage. Then, move all valuables to the highest elevation possible.

Finally, don’t forget about your cars! If you park outside, move them from underneath trees if possible. Otherwise, bring them inside the garage.

 

Keeping Your Pets Safe

Regardless of whether you decide to stay or evacuate, make sure that your pets are micro-chipped and have identification tags. These will be invaluable if you become separated.

If you’re evacuating, remember to pack a bag for Fido, too.

Inside of it, include all important medications, records, food, and leashes. Keep it nearby for quick access.

What to Do During a Hurricane

If you decided to ride the storm out from home, you’ll need to take special precautions to stay as safe as possible. 

Under no circumstance should you handle electrical equipment, such as your stove, hairdryer, or television. If you need to use the phone, do so quickly and only in an emergency.

If the power goes out during the storm, resist the urge to light every candle in the house. These could knock over during the commotion of the hurricane and pose a fire risk. Instead, stick with battery-operated flashlights. 

Finally, don’t assume the storm is over just because the rain subsides or the wind dies down. Remember, the eye of the storm is often characterized by a short-lived period of calm. Soon thereafter, the weather pattern picks back up. If you’re outside when it happens, you could be in the middle of the chaos. 

Along the same lines, don’t underestimate the power of floodwaters. It takes less than a foot of fast-moving water to knock you off your feet during a hurricane. Resist the urge to walk or swim in the water, and never attempt to drive through it.

 

What to Do After a Hurricane

The storm is officially over, power is restored, and you’re left to assess the aftermath. If your home is intact, remember to turn on your appliances slowly, one at a time. Powering them up all at once could create a damaging surge.

If your power is still out, an outdoor generator positioned at least 10 feet away from your home can help you access critical appliances. However, remember to never use one indoors, even in a basement. The exhaust fumes they generate can lead to high levels of carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that can be deadly to inhale.

Then, you can check your property inside and outside for hurricane damage, taking photos of any evidence you encounter. If you notice any downed power lines along the way, report them to local authorities, being careful to stay far away from them. Also, keep far away from floodwaters and dangerous debris.

 

Protect Yourself and Your Valuables Today

Still wondering what to do during a hurricane? One of the most important steps you can take is to have an experienced and certified insurance adjuster on your side.

If you experience water damage to your property, you deserve to restore what you lost.

We understand that the claims process can be confusing and overwhelming, and we’re here to help.

As Orlando’s premier hurricane damage adjusters, we’re dedicated to making sure you receive the maximum compensation you’re due. We’re experts in this field and we’re ready to work with you every step of the way.

Contact us for a free case evaluation today and let us take it from there.

The Complete Florida Resident’s Guide To Hurricane Insurance

The Complete Florida Resident’s Guide To Hurricane Insurance

You’ve finally done it… you purchased your dream home on one of the most beautiful places on all of God’s creation: Florida.

This state is home to pristine beaches, beautiful year-round weather, and eye-catching greenery everywhere you turn. It truly is one of a kind, and you’re now a homeowner in it… lucky you!

However, not even paradise comes without its cautions. Being in a peninsula, every Florida owner should invest in hurricane insurance regardless of where you live.

You always think it can’t happen to you until it does.

Here is your complete guide to hurricane insurance as a Florida resident.

 

There’s Insurance for any Living Situation

 

Many people reading this may think Well, I’m not a homeowner yet so this article doesn’t apply to me… Wrong!

There’s hurricane insurance for any situation, whether you’re renting a home or buying a home, you can be covered.

You can also be specified by the type of home that you own or rent. Categories such as renter’s insurance, condo insurance, mobile home insurance, and homeowner’s insurance help target your overall needs.

For example, homeowner’s insurance will be geared towards protecting not only your belongings but the structural integrity of the house itself.

Whereas renter’s insurance is simply focused on covering all of your belongings that become damaged during the hurricane. The property itself is up to your landlord, not you.

Hurricane insurance is included in any of these home policies in the state of Florida, pick the one that fits your situation and stay protected during a crisis.

 

 

Safety During an Emergency

Depending on how seriously your location gets hit with the hurricane, you may find that your home, neighborhood, and city unsafe to stay in.

When that happens, you’ll need to make temporary living arrangements until your home can be fixed. Many people don’t have enough saved up to pay for that unforeseen expense out of pocket.

Hurricane insurance helps you cover those expenses by way of reimbursing you for all the emergency costs. That way you and your family can find safe shelter, whatever that may look like, as you await the day you can return home.

Depending on your provider, you may find that they’ll try to be a bit stingy with how much/little coverage they payout for you.

That’s why it’s crucial to team up with a trusted public adjuster to set yourself up with the highest possible settlement. You’re the one that is going through the tragedy, you should be compensated for it.

 

Hurricanes are Included in Flood Insurance

 

 

 

You may find yourself overwhelmed by the number of insurance policies you need to invest in as a Florida homeowner. Fear not, most of them are included within each other.

Flood insurance differs from home insurance, but it still covers hurricanes if they’re the cause of the flood itself.

Basically, flood insurance covers any instance in which your property and/or belongings are damaged by rising water where there’s usually dry land.

Flood damage is one of the most costly incidents that can happen to your home. It can cost a minimum of $7,800 for only 1-4 inches of water. That means you’re forced to pay it out of pocket without flood insurance on your side.

Fortunately, some homeowners are required to have flood insurance. There are several factors that indicate whether you fall in that umbrella, the big indication is your flood zone, read more about that below…

 

 

Know Your Flood Zones

Whether you realized it or not, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has mapped out flood zones all across the nation.

The state of Florida especially abides by this, being almost completely surrounded by water, and uses it to determine if you’re more or less susceptible to floods.

The mapping programs are relatively easy to understand, their risk factors are associated and labeled with a letter.

FEMA undergoes an exhaustive process every few years with all local counties to provide any changes and reinforced data that support each flood zone category. So if your zone is labeled “AE” or high risk, there’s significant evidence to back it up.

Living in a high-risk zone shouldn’t keep you up at night. You just need to make sure your belongings and future are protected in the event of an emergency.

Hurricanes are a part of life down in Florida. If you live in the state long enough, you’re certain to undergo an evacuation or two; it’s just a means of safety!

 

 

Learn All That You Can

Whether you’ve lived in Florida your entire life or are just now becoming a full-time resident, it benefits you to know all you can about hurricane emergencies.

Read up on a successful evacuation process and what you can do to best prepare yourself when that day comes.

There are things you can be doing now to protect your family later. Things like having an emergency kit and evacuation plan will come in handy during that time.

If you’ve set yourself up with hurricane insurance, it’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about. Now it’s time to focus on being as prepared as possible to temporarily move you and your family if one were to hit your town.

 

 

Hurricane Insurance Doesn’t Have to Be a Headache

You’ve already got enough on your plate when a natural disaster happens, don’t let hurricane insurance be another thing to worry about.

There are claim consultants out there with experience in helping people like you get the most return possible for their settlements.

Be sure to read up on how Let Us Claim can help you maximize your insurance company’s payout after there’s been damage to your home.

For more inquiries, please reach out via our contact us page and we’ll be happy to speak with you further.

The Scientific Scoop: How A Hurricane Forms

The Scientific Scoop: How A Hurricane Forms

  Every year, parts of the Gulf Coast, Caribbean, and Atlantic Coast prepare for what they call “hurricane season.”

A hurricane is a type of storm that is also known as a tropical cyclone. It’s a rotating low-pressure weather system that forms over warm tropical or subtropical waters (like the Caribbean). To be a hurricane, the wind in the cyclone must reach at least 74 miles-per-hour.

What causes hurricanes, and how do they become so powerful? Keep reading to learn how a hurricane forms.

 

How a Hurricane Forms: Evaporation and      Condensation

 

   

Why does only part of the world experience tropical cyclones (and hurricanes)? It’s because these storms need warm water (at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 165 feet below the surface) to form.

However, these storms need more than tropical waters: they also need the right conditions.

A tropical cyclone occurs when the warm air over the sea rises and gets replaced by cooler air. Thanks to the equatorial latitude, the cold air then warms and also rises. As the warm air rises, the area below becomes a low-pressure zone. Then, the air from higher pressure areas pushes in, which causes the air to rise again.

To form a hurricane, the rising air needs to meet winds. When the westward winds blow from Africa across the Atlantic, it causes the water to turn into water vapor and rise. When the water vapor rises, it cools again and turns back into water droplets.

The cycle of evaporation and condensation (formation of water droplets) in the rising air causes cumulonimbus clouds to form. They then begin to rotate thanks to the rotation of the earth.

When there’s enough warm water, the clouds grow and grow through more cycles. Once the clouds rotate at more than 74 miles per hour, they become a hurricane.

 

 

The Four Stages of a Tropical Cyclone

Before reaching hurricane state, the tropical cyclone goes through three earlier stages. Indeed, a tropical cyclone can still cause damage even if it doesn’t achieve hurricane status.

The first stage is a tropical disturbance. It occurs when the clouds form according to the evaporation and condensation pattern described above and when the wind begins circulating.

Rotating weather systems with surface winds of under 39 miles per hour are tropical depressions. Once the speeds reach 39 miles per hour (up to 74 mph), the system is a tropical storm.

 

 

What Makes Hurricanes so Powerful?

Hurricanes are at their most powerful when they’re out at sea because they feed on the cycle of warm water evaporation and condensation. Once they hit land, they lose their power source, which causes them to weaken, but not before wreaking havoc.

Once a storm becomes a hurricane, it falls into one of five categories:

  • Category 1 – 74-95 mph winds
  • Category 2 – 96-110 mph winds
  • Category 3 – 111-129 mph winds
  • Category 4 – 130-156 mph winds
  • Category 5 – 157+ mph hour winds

The strongest Atlantic hurricane ever on record is Hurricane Wilma (2005). Wind speeds were recorded at 185 miles per hour and caused $34.4 billion in damage.

As a reminder, wind speeds are not the only factor involved in the damage a storm causes. Flooding is also an issue, which is why Hurrican Katrina, which also landed in 2005, had max wind speeds of 175 miles per hour but caused $161.6 billion in damage

Tropical cyclones (same storm but not called hurricanes) are often much stronger when they originate in the Pacific. The size of the Pacific Ocean gives the system more time to gather speed before it meets land, which means these storms have the potential to be much stronger and larger.

In the Pacific, the storm with the highest winds is Patricia (2015), with wind speeds of up to 215 miles per hour.

 

 

 

Why Global Warming Plays a Role in Hurricane Strength

Scientists say it’s challenging to link single storms to other trends like global warming. However, it is possible to link storm patterns, and the patterns are troubling.

For example, when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in 2019, it arrived with 185 mile per hour winds and a powerful storm surge that devastated the islands. But Dorian wasn’t always a superstorm: the Friday before it landed, it was a Category 3. On Sunday, the “storm-fueling waters” of the Caribbean raised it to a Category 5 storm. Then, when it lost the winds needed to move it on, it stalled over the Bahamas, battering some parts of the archipelago into oblivion.

Why the link with climate change?

The National Climate Assessment has suggested for years that we could see a higher number of more intense storms over time – hitting the coasts one after another. Moreover, warmer conditions could make hurricanes move slower and dump more rain (thanks to the increased cycle). Other studies say a warmer atmosphere could also slow down the winds that push a storm forward, as happened with Hurrican Dorian.

The slower winds don’t make for slower wind speeds. They stop the storm from reaching land faster, thereby cutting off its supply of warm water, which weakens it.

 

 

 

Are Category 6 Hurricanes on Their Way?

At present, there are five categories of hurricanes. But the intensity of the storms (and the number of them) has some considering whether a Category 6 is necessary. A new category would better communicate the severity and power of today’s superstorms. But Robert Simpson, who created the Saffir-Simpson scale currently used, said that once wind speeds are more than 156 miles per hour, it tears buildings apart – and that’s the most important thing to communicate (in their opinion).

Scientists first started discussing it after the intense 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. But chatter notably picked up when Hurricane Dorian landed and became what some believe as the threshold for Category 6 storms.

A new category is possible, but at present, it doesn’t exist. Call them what you want, but a lack of a new name doesn’t negate the damage done by these new storms.

 

 

 

Do You Have Adequate Hurricane Protection?

If you live on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts of the United States, you need excellent insurance to help protect you when hurricanes make landfall.

The combination of warmer waters and warmer air temps impact how a hurricane forms. They create more and more severe storms.

Are you worried about what your insurance offers? Are you still dealing with hurricane damage from last year? We specialize in hurricane damage of all kinds. Get in touch for a free consultation with our insurance consultants.

The Universal Truth Behind Sinkholes In Florida

The Universal Truth Behind Sinkholes In Florida

The state of Florida is well known for many things. Bright sunshine, devastating hurricanes, terrifying alligators and… sinkholes!

Yes, Florida has had more sinkholes than any other state in the USA. For locals, the issue that the earth could, at any given moment, gobble them whole is a very real fear.

These terrifying ground chasms have been swelling and increasing over the past few years, and the question on many people’s lips is – why are there so many sinkholes in Florida?

We’re here to spill the beans on this dramatic high-profile natural phenomenon. Here’s the truth as to why there are so many sinkholes in Florida.

 

 

 

Sinkhole Stories in Florida

 

 

There have been many incidences of Florida sinkholes, but let’s shine the light on some of the most high-profile cases.

Usually, sinkholes end up being a headache for property owners and a shock for locals at worst. But unfortunately, tragedy does strike and there have been six recorded deaths from sinkholes occurring in Florida.

The most shocking story took place in 2013 when Jeffrey Bush was swallowed whole when a sinkhole sucked him 20 feet underground. Bush was sleeping soundly in his bedroom at the time, and sadly his body was never recovered from the deep, dark depths of the sinkhole.

And in 2012, a sinkhole gulped down the back of a home at Shoal Drive in Hudson. A photo was taken to show the shocking damage. At the time the image was taken, the sinkhole was reportedly 40 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

 

 

 

Why Are There Sinkholes in Florida?

 

 

 

So, why are there so many sinkholes in Florida? What causes them? It’s time to learn interesting facts about sinkholes.

Firstly, Florida is a state built on a foundation of carbonate, primarily formulated by limestone.

Limestone rock dissolves easily in rainwater. That rainwater then becomes acidic as it soaks into the soil. The resulting terrain is called karst and it’s packed full of cavities.

When a cavity grows too large to support its top, it suddenly collapses. The packed sand and clay break down, leaving a gaping cavernous hole at the surface. Scary, huh?

That’s not the half of it either. The main trigger for sinkholes relates to water. Too much of it or too little of it can contribute to a sinkhole occurring.

Florida usually has perfectly moist soil which offers a stabilizing effect on karst and prevents it from collapsing. However, during a drought, cavities that were usually sustained by groundwater become empty and unstable. As a result, a sinkhole can occur.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, during an intense rainstorm, the billowing weight of pooled water can strain and affect the earth. The sudden extra groundwater can then wash out and overwhelm cavities, resulting in a sinkhole.

At the beginning of 2017, Central Florida was suffering from an unfortunate drought. To make matters worse, the heavy rainfall of Hurricane Irma devastated in September that year.

These two natural disasters, one leading the other, offered optimal conditions for a sinkhole pandemic.

Ready for more information about sinkholes in Florida? Well, it turns out, us humans we don’t help the situation either.

Man-made development contributes heavily to the increase in sinkholes in Florida. Did you know that the risk of sinkholes is 11 times greater in developed areas than undeveloped ones?

Equipment that maneuvers across the earth end up scrubbing away protective layers of soil contributes to the formation of sinkholes. Imagine the effects of parking lots and paved roads that are constantly used, and the weight of newly-constructed buildings weighing down on weak spots on the earth.

Think of all the buried infrastructure that can lead to leaking underground pipes, and the pumping of groundwater disrupting the karst.

 

 

 

Sinkhole Signs to Watch out For

 

 

 

Sinkholes don’t just occur in Florida though, and wherever you live there are some signs you can look out for that may indicate an impending sinkhole.

If your yard seems to be settling, there may be a possibility of a sinkhole occurring. However, it’s important to note that other issues can cause various holes or depressions that materialize on the ground surface.

If you’re worried, the best idea is to have it checked out by a licensed engineer and a professional geologist or geology firm. Better to be safe than sorry though, right?

If a sinkhole appeared in your neighborhood, again, you should have an inspection of your home for any worrying sinking or soft areas that could result in a sinkhole. However, while sinkholes in Florida do sometimes appear in sets, usually they’re isolated situations. Unless the sinkhole in question is rather big and extends to your property, there shouldn’t be a reason for too much concern.

In Florida, there are also areas where there’s a higher risk of sinkholes, too. Typically, areas in Florida where limestone is close to the surface, or areas featuring deeper limestone featuring a conductive structure of water table elevation have increased the likelihood of a sinkhole occurring.

 

Reporting Sinkholes in Florida

Sinkholes in Florida happen, so it’s important to know what to do if it happens near you.

If a sinkhole opens in your neighborhood, immediately call local law enforcement to report the hazard. Then, speak to your city or country road department for immediate repair work. In the meantime, the sinkhole should be cordoned off and marked to protect pedestrians and car traffic.

If you suspect a sinkhole is forming near your home, we’re here to help. Notify our specialist consultants so that you can be prepared to file an insurance claim. Learn more about our sinkhole services here.

Recognizing The Warning Signs Of Sinkholes: A Complete Guide

Recognizing The Warning Signs Of Sinkholes: A Complete Guide

A sinkhole is a common occurrence in the state of Florida, with warning signs of sinkholes being difficult to spot in many cases. Sometimes a sinkhole can take hours to cause problems, and sometimes it will be months or even years.

It is estimated that between the years of 2006 and 2010, almost 17 insurance claims a day were made in Florida as a result of sinkholes. Those claims totaled over $1.4 billion dollars in sinkhole damage in the state of Florida alone over a four-year period.

Recognize the warning signs of sinkholes with this complete guide right here.

 

 

 

Understanding Warning Signs of Sinkholes

 

 

There are no two sinkholes created equally, and so the warning signs of sinkholes will vary from one sinkhole to the next. But there are still many clues in or around your home that can give you an idea if you are near a sinkhole, or perhaps even sitting on one.

Because of how sinkholes are formed in the Earth, the state of Florida has almost more sinkholes than any other state. A sinkhole is literally a hole in the ground, that starts off as a hole in the Earth that is covered by an Earth ceiling.

When that ceiling falls, you see a sinkhole in the ground. They are dramatic on the news as they are usually profiled when a car drives in them, or a sinkhole swallows home, as has been known to happen.

They aren’t always that big, however. A sinkhole occurs when water gets into the bedrock of the earth and begins to erode at it, which causes cracks.

Over time, those cracks become a tiny fissure or hole, and that hole expands in time. Eventually, it is almost as if a cave exists in the bedrock.

Most of the time those caves stay covered by the Earth, but when the ceiling on that hole collapses, we get a sinkhole.

That can be a dangerous and potentially devastating situation. Discover more about sinkhole losses and damages if you are seeing some of the warning signs of sinkholes.

 

 

1. Problems With Doors and Cabinets

If you are starting to notice some structural issues at home that don’t appear to be major right now, you might be experiencing some of the warning signs of sinkholes. One of those minor things is a tilt or lilt in any of your doors or cabinets.

You may have problems closing doors, or seeing them jam more often than they have in the past. Homes always have a way of settling into the Earth over time, and so if you are experiencing any kind of unevenness this doesn’t always mean you have a sinkhole.

But if you find that latches on doors or cupboards don’t meet anymore, or drawers appearing uneven, you might have a sinkhole and should look for other warning signs of sinkholes.

 

 

2. Cracks

Cracks in concrete on or around your home will also begin to crop up when there is a sinkhole. You may see them on your walls, and should look for them near the corners where your walls and ceilings meet.

You also want to look for cracks around windows and doors. Don’t assume that every crack means you have a sinkhole.

Cracks related to sinkholes often have a crocodile skin-like appearance, in that they appear like large uneven circles that you might see on a crocodile or alligator print.

 

 

3. Examine Walls and Floors

One of the most important warning signs of sinkholes is spotted in walls and flooring. You may actually see a wall begin to pull away from a ceiling or from another wall.

Or you may see a gap between ceilings and walls in some sections. That separation is something worth looking into.

Another more subtle sign of a sinkhole is in slanted flooring or in molding that may be coming from the wall. You will see it pulling away in the molding.

Floors can sometimes take on a slanted appearance as well. In homes with hardwood floors, you are going to see some buckling and dipping in sections, and that is normal with hardwood floors.

It doesn’t always mean you are seeing the warning signs of sinkholes. But you do also want to look for similar tilting or lilting in your backyard as well.

If you find anything that looks like it needs repairs, it’s then time to begin searching for a water restoration company who can help assist you in getting your home back into tip-top shape.

 

 

4. Water Changes

You are also going to be seeing some water changes on or around your property if you have a sinkhole problem. One of the warning signs of sinkholes is the disappearance of water into a section of the ground with no known reason.

If you have a well on your property, you may also notice a drop in your levels. This is an indication that your wall water is going into the ground, and leading to the development of a sinkhole.

You may also note what rain smells like on some occasions, it is usually considered a lovely and fresh scent in the spring. But one of the warning signs of sinkholes is an Earthy switch to the scent of rain.

You also want to look for cloudiness in well water, or even debris leaking into your well.

If your backyard begins to smell more like a garden than usual, you may have a sinkhole.

 

 

Sinkholes Are Common

It is estimated that approximately 20% of the land in the United States is prone to sinkhole activity. Most American sinkhole activity occurs in Florida, with other states including Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, and Missouri, also seeing sinkhole activity.

Sinkholes are so common in Florida however that the insurance industry has legislation and mandates to follow when appraising sinkhole damage.

Check out the Florida sinkhole statutes as of 2019 for more information on the laws involving sinkholes in this state.

But even so, sinkhole claims are still very complex. Understanding the warning signs of sinkholes can go a long way towards saving money on both your insurance costs and your homeowner costs.

You also want to be sure that you know those warning signs for factors beyond the financial. Your home, your car, your office, your backyard, and every space in the world that you hold dear to you is home to valuables, mementos, and memories, that no insurance claim can ever replace if lost into a sinkhole.

 

Let Us Claim Your Sinkhole Damage Insurance

  

If you are dealing with sinkhole problems, contact the experts that can help you through the insurance process and help you understand the warning signs of sinkholes more.

Insurance experts can take the guesswork out of this process and will advocate for you in negotiating the insurance process after you’ve undergone the stress of a sinkhole.

Contact Let Us Claim for a free consultation and get ahead of any sinkhole problem today.